UKIP campaigners are quietly confident that a former Government minister’s Sussex constituency could be among their first parliamentary seats next May.
Leaked polling documents have indicated that Tim Loughton’s East Worthing and Shoreham is one of the seats Ukip will target next year.
While Ukip is yet to officially confirm it will target the Sussex seat, local party members hope success at recent European and local elections will be repeated on the national stage.
Victory for Ukip candidate Michael Glennon would represent a major turnaround from 2010 when he finished fourth with just 3,000 votes.
Councillor Glennon said if the East Worthing and Shoreham seat was confirmed as a target by his party, it could radically alter his campaign.
He said: “Spending limits for elections are about £30,000 per constituency and I can’t pretend that myself and my Ukip chums have that sort of money to slap on the table.
“But as a target seat, for one of our donors such as Paul Sykes, £30,000 is pocket money and to have him standing behind you would mean campaigning doubly hard, trebly hard.”
Coun Glennon, who won a seat on West Sussex County Council last year, said target seats were chosen based on previous voting statistics, burning local issues and a hard-working party.
He said: “There is a big Conservative majority but the whole area of politics is changing radically.
“The old spectrum of left wing and right wing has changed to whether you support an independent Britain or being subsumed within the European superstate.”
Ken Bishop, Ukip Adur councillor for Southlands ward, said it would be “one hell of an uphill climb” to overturn Mr Loughton’s 11,000 plus majority and “a change in the mindset” of local voters.
He said: “By no stretch of the imagination are we saying that Nigel Farage will be asked by The Queen to form a new government next year but there are going to be Ukip MPs and possibly Shoreham and East Worthing could be one of them.”
A spokesman from the Ukip central office said he was unable to confirm the details of the leaked polling information.